10 villains in the movies who are better than their comic book counterparts


Much like with beloved superheroes, fans are always excited to see how some of their favorite comic book villains are adapted in the movies. In some cases, the movies find an interesting new take on an iconic villain, like Joker in The black Knight. Other times the results can be disappointing, like Venom in Spider-Man 3.

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However, there are also rare instances where the movies improve on the villain, delivering the definitive version. Whether it’s the actor taking the role or more depth given to a one-dimensional villain, these villains are even better than their comic book counterparts.

ten Sandman – Spider-Man 3 (2007)

The Rise of Sandman - Spider-Man 3

Few fans could have guessed that in a Spider Man movie which starred Sandman and Venom as villains, Sandman would be the most interesting character. While he’s mostly seen as a jerk with admittedly interesting power in the comics, Sam Raimi Spider-Man 3 turned Sandman into a sympathetic villain.

While the return of Uncle Ben’s death was unnecessary, the story involving Sandman’s sick daughter was touching. Other than that, Sandman’s powers made for some wonderful action sets that helped make him one of the best villains in the Raimi trilogy.

9 William Stryker (X2: X-Men United)

William Stryker is actually a pretty interesting villain in the X-Men comics, but not one that would work very well in the movies. He is a hateful preacher who views mutants as abominations that must be destroyed.

This interpretation of the character was perhaps too exaggerated for the X Men movies, but X2 found a clever way to bring it into the fold. He was reinvented as a serviceman who was responsible for giving Wolverine his claws. Although Wolverine has more frightening villains he’s faced, Stryker has become his most personal opponent.

8 Scarecrow (Batman begins)

Cillian Murphy as the Scarecrow in Batman Begins

Jonathan Crane aka Scarecrow is a classic Batman villain and fits well into the Caped Crusader’s gallery of thugs. Just as Batman uses fear to intimidate Gotham’s criminals, fear is Scarecrow’s primary weapon as well.

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Scarecrow’s first big screen appearance was in Batman begins and has the distinction of being the only villain to appear in all of Nolan’s Batman films. What really made the character work so well was the chilling performance of Cillian Murphy who could go from calm to a deranged monster in seconds.

7 Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Vulture has a long history in the comics as he was the second Spider-Man villain to ever face. Adrian Toomes has had a number of interesting arcs in the comics, from a vengeful inventor to an old man trying to harness the power of youth.

For Spider-Man’s first villain in the MCU, Vulture receives a shrewd approach from blue-collar workers. Toomes is a businessman who turns to crime after being deceived by Tony Stark. There is also a big twist in the film that gives it an unexpected connection to Peter Parker.

6 Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Nebula Karen Gillan

Nebula is featured in the comics as Thanos’ granddaughter who is terribly abused and tortured by the Mad Titan. She continues to share a long history with Thanos and other cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe as she operates as a space pirate.

The guardians of the galaxy the movies have aptly kept the attachment to Thanos in Nebula’s story, which has become a significant part of his journey in the MCU. After starting out as a lackey, Nebula grew into a hero, forming a relationship with his sister Gamora, joining the Guardians of the Galaxy, and even becoming an Avenger.

5 The Mandarin (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)

Xu Wenwu seated on his throne in Mandarin in Shang-Chi.

Mandarin was actually an Iron Man villain in the comics which has a controversial backstory. He is an ancient and powerful figure who draws power from ten magical rings each with their own unique abilities.

While Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings maintains the source of his powers, the so-called Mandarin receives a much more developed story. He is made to be Shang-Chi’s father named Wenwu whose mission in the movie is actually quite understandable if misguided. Thanks to Tony Leung’s formidable performance, Mandarin has become a leading MCU villain.

4 Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

Ego trying to convince Peter Quill to join him in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Ego the Living Planet is a character from the comics that most fans probably considered too weird to ever be a part of the movies. It is literally a living planet that can travel through space. Ego is one of the most powerful cosmic villains but has never been very interesting as a character.

James Gunn was the perfect filmmaker to embrace Ego’s strangeness from the comics while making him a fleshed out villain. After being revealed as Peter Quill’s true father, Ego becomes a truly formidable villain with Kurt Russell delivering a stellar performance.

3 Black Manta (Aquaman)

Black Manta is Aquaman’s most famous opponent in the comics while having one of the coolest villain designs. His most popular origin story reinvents him as a mercenary and treasure hunter who kills Arthur Curry’s father.

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The theme of revenge was used in Aquaman as Black Manta debuted on the big screen. However, in this version, Black Manta seeks revenge on Aquaman after letting his mercenary father die at sea. Along with this sympathetic take, the film brings his iconic look to life perfectly.

2 Loki (Thor)

Loki is another villain who achieved iconic status in the comics as Thor’s mischievous and envious brother. And while the source material provided notable moments for Loki, he became one of the best movie villains of the 21st century thanks to the MCU.

Tom Hiddleston’s charismatic performance helped audiences invest in Loki and they were excited to follow his journey from villain who sought to conquer Earth to someone who could perhaps find redemption.

1 Killmonger (Black Panther)

Erik Killmonger is actually not a character who has appeared a lot in the comics. His origins explain that he is a native of Wakandan who was kidnapped from his home and accuses King T’Chaka, thus seeking to overthrow him and become king.

Aspects of this origin story were included in Black Panther, but Killmonger becomes a much more complex character. He is a young boy who has been abandoned by his people and believes that Wakanda’s superiority in the world could free his people. Michael B. Jordan’s powerful performance adds to what many consider one of the best comic book villains of all time.

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